In My Eyes
By Edward B. Antonio
The campus journalism presscon months for both the elementary and secondary levels are here again, fellas.
Last time around, I chanced upon some school paper advisers who were extremely worried of the division and regional presscons. Last October, they said they started scouting for their staff members who will work on their first issue.
“Our first issue is also our contest issue, so we have to come out with a tabloid with at least 12 pages,” one high school paper adviser said, looking worried and upset.
“Because that is the minimum number of pages in order that our contestants can join the individual writing contests. The maximum is 20 pages,” he said.
“So why only 12 pages,” I asked. “Why won’t you make it more than 12, even up to 20 pages? I think the more pages you have, the higher is your chance of winning in the different pages.”
“We don’t have the finances, sir,’ he said.
Then he narrated his problems: school paper printing is P40,000 for both English and Filipino papers, registration fee for live-in delegates is P750 (no breakfast, no dinner), registration fee for live out delegates is P220, membership fee to division association for student-delegates is P30, membership fee to division association for adviser delegates is P60, fare for both live-in and live-out participants and of course, extra pocket money.
“But you have been doing these through the years,” I said.
“True, sir, but the printing cost of the papers is constantly increasing while live-in participants this time no longer have breakfast and dinner with their P750, unlike last year. Actually, we have to borrow money from the canteen, the PTA and other sources,” he replied.
“Maybe your P750 is not enough,” I said. “Catering services nowadays, I think, charge a minimum of P250 a day including 2 snacks. How about your P220 registration for live-out? Was it P220 last year?”
“No sir. It was less than P200.”
“Well, you have to consider the following management expenses, too, and the cost also gets higher: lights and water, sound system, honorarium and meals of lecturer-judges, management and facilitators, medals and certificates for winners and participants including the printing cost, janitorial works and other miscellaneous expenses,” I said.
I also told him all payments are properly receipted by the division office and will pass through the scrutiny of the Commission on Audit.
“As for the membership fees of students and advisers to their respective association, you can always raise the matter in your post-conference meeting, I think, there will be a treasurer’s report,” I said.
“Thanks for the information, sir. But we are really hard-up financially because we only have more than 400 students in our school where we get the expenses. Each paying parent shells out P90 for our school paper voluntarily and not everyone voluntarily gives,” he said.
“So, what did you do?”
“We cut off the printing expenses by ordering only 50 school papers, good for contest entry and for the students to read in our library,” he said.“But I know very well that those parents who paid and do not have a copy will soon demand their copies.”
“Well, that’s always the case. I know you are not alone. So if you have a contestant winning in the division schools press conference, what’s next for them? ” I asked.
“They will advance to the regional presscon, sir, and that would be again another problem for their registration fees and transportation expenses,” he said.
“How much?” I asked.
“Last year, their registration fee to the regional contest was more than P1000, good for 3 days, sir,” he said.
“Well, you have to live to that, that’s a part of the profession, unless there will be revisions after your post conference,” I said. “You can always give your suggestions, anyway, your supervisor in charge of campus journalism and your association officers are very cordial,” I said. “Anyway, do you have some suggestions?”
“I hope there will be bracketing of school paper entries: Bracket A for those with 14 to 20 pages and Bracket B for those with 8 to 12 pages just like 10 years ago so that schools who can only publish papers with 8 to 12 pages will have a chance to win in their respective bracket. For, how can small schools compete with big schools with big school paper funds? It’s extremely unfair!” he lamented.
“I agree with you on that matter. I think you can do something about that. You can suggest that idea to your regional paper federation president who is authorized to attend the national planning convention. This is the majority sentiment of paper advisers nationwide, too. I also wonder why the bracketing was abolished. The group contests have become a monopoly of big schools because they have big funding which come from their school paper fees. What else can you suggest?” I said.
“I also wish that a division winner in 2 events is qualified to compete in both events in the regional level unlike this time that a winner in 2 events can compete only in one and he has to surrender the other! That’s also extremely unfair. If the event winners have a ratio of 1:1, there will be more contestant entries, more registration fee to shell out, more transportation expenses, more congested venue, more billeting schools and all these things mean more problems!” he lamented.
“But that’s when only secondary schools compete,” I said. “Today, we have the elementary as well.”
“I’ve been joining the regional presscons the last 5 years, sir, and when my student won two events in the division level, he was able to represent both events in the regional contests,” he said.
“You really have a lot of concerns,” I said. “It’s about time you air them in your meetings, if you have the guts to stand up and speak.”
He was silent.
It means he doesn’t have the guts. And until other paper advisers like him do not have the guts to air their opinions on certain issues they are concerned about, they will remain problematic.
“Amen,” Mang Maing says.#